The story of business in church stretches back to 2001 when Bishop Gideon was invited to a conference on microfinance in Cairo. The focus of the conference was on how to deal with poverty in the ‘two-thirds world’. ‘Two-Thirds’ and not ‘Third World’ is a preferred terminology that clearly shows where the two-thirds of the world live. The Cairo conference on microfinance brought together the first world with the third world with the main focus on poverty eradication in two-thirds of the world. The Five Talents International board meets in London and Washington in 2016, and plans are afoot to meet in Nairobi.
“Just before retirement, I was invited by the board of Five Talents International and requested to serve on the International board of the Five Talents. To me it was an honour which I gladly obliged,” says Bishop Gideon.
The third world is suffers greatly with corruption and the money is often not used for the intended purposes. The Five Talents training is meant to enhance the work of God in poverty alleviation. It has been observed that most of the time, the pastor may be too busy to look at issues of microfinance but, if endowed with knowledge and skills on how to do business, congregations can only enhanced the spread of the gospel of the Kingdom.
Bishop Gideon is with Five Talents, as is the arm of the Anglican Church that promotes microfinance work amongst the Southern Hemisphere. “I’m here because of the work that was done in our lives by Church Mission Society (CMS). My father was a CMS catechist and that shaped who we are today,” affirms Bishop Gideon who, though being a product of CMS, has this as his first interaction with CMS-Africa.
Bishop Gideon served as Bishop for 14 years from 1999 to 2013 before being appointed to the board of Five Talents International. He was formerly of Thika Diocese which runs a microfinance business, the biggest in the Anglican Church. “Five Talents is at work in the two-thirds of the world population. What we are doing is transformational and aimed at bringing about real change amongst Christian believers,” adds Bishop Gideon.
The microfinance pilot in Thika Diocese:
In 2003, Five Talents International accepted to work with Thika Diocese thus commencing their work in Kenya.
In villages across Kenya and Africa, there are savings groups and there is microfinance going on, especially where women pull together their resources to do merry-go-rounds.
Therefore, Five Talents leveraged these groups. Finances from were not to be given to the Christians but to provide a facilitative role to ensure that their money is better used.
Since its initiation, there are many stories of change due to the work of Five Talents. Banks have been initiated in various dioceses due to the influx of money amongst Christian groups engaging in microfinance. Allowing some churches have accumulated hundreds of thousands of shillings.
There are rules and regulations that govern the operations of microfinance, chiefly that the money belongs to the people who are members of the group that contribute.
Members of the group (trust groups) are devoted and committed to the success of the microfinance work.
Microfinance is not about charity or luck. There is need for hard work: working for 6 days and going to worship and rest on the 7th day.
“Where the church has successful microfinance, all the believers become disciplined and mature Christians,” observes Five Talents Trainer Njeru.
The microfinance work has also become part of the evangelical wing of the Anglican Church, where is the microfinance scheme is strong, the faithful are able to benefit wholisitcally by receiving education as well as medical treatment amongst other things.
By John Ndeta